Few years after a Congolese resident M. K. Oliver was gruesomely murdered in Delhi, other culpable attacks have targeted at African students in India. Not much has changed in the past years. People persist in their perceptions, prejudices and misconceptions while the government either looks the other way or engage in vehement denial of racism in these willful crimes. For example, the killing of M.K. Olivier was denied by the government as a racist attack.
Waving off racism and xenophobia by tagging them only urban crimes in denial is not only a weak approach but also a gross violation of the victim’s rights and prevention of access to justice. Why would groups of people take the law into their hands and believe mob attack is the way of correcting perceived wrongs? What would the repercussions have been to diplomatic ties if the victims are people from the west?
To effectively curb racism against Africans, the government must first recognise attacks as crimes against humanity, racism and xenophobia. The response must not be only in quick words but also quick actions too. This would go a long way in curbing the attitude of impunity. The wide gap between the ideals and practices of Indian foreign policy and it’s communication to the people must be bridged. India must learn to walk its talk. “India matters to Africa, Africa matters to India” must not just be a slogan but a working parameter.
Government’s denial of antiracism may jeopardise India’s growing ties with Africa in trade, technology and human resources which have grown splendidly in billions of dollars. Though announcing scholarships, grants and credit lines for the few Africans in India, the atmosphere has not been made conducive for this to be effectual.
Stereotyping Africa and Africans are norms in India. Africa symbolises under development while Africans are debased people who indulge in prostitution, drug peddling and all manner of vices. A recent attack against Nigerians is a case in Satellite town in New Delhi where locals attack five Nigerians over the death of their teenage neighbour who died from a drug overdose. Without any evidence, they concluded the Nigerians must have supplied the drugs and attacked them.
The government’s effort to attract tourists and foreign nationals from many countries to come to study and earn livings is a fluke without complementary efforts to educate the people about peaceful co-existence and multiculturalism.
Recently, a mob attack was carried out against some African male students. A crowd chanting nationalist slogans circled them for allegedly misbehaving with an Indian woman without any report to the police.
India’s external affairs and home ministries must sensitise the police and populace on how racism pulls down the nation’s ideals. Human Rights violations against foreigners should have a department looking critically into it. India NGOs should take a cue from their counterparts rendering services to distressed Indians in foreign countries and imbibe the same. The human resources ministry need to hold anti-racism campaigns on university campuses and efforts should be made to educate Indian students about Africans and their countries.
African students should be given safe appropriate lodgings and boarding facilities in and around campus or around other students residences instead of confinement to few “African Neighbourhood ” to reduce alienation and stigmatization. Mutual respect must be observed. Indian ministries and media should not only broadcast scholarships for Africans but also how India economy benefits immensely from Africa. Private sectors too must take the lead in highlighting the greatness of the African continent and it’s worth to India to dismantle the fallacies of perceived superiority over Africans.
Africans must also push for equality and reject racism in the strongest terms in their summits and formalise such in treaties. Tine has come to stand strong against racism prevailing within the Global South societies as racism was indeed one of the founding ideals of the south-south relationship.